tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg December 19, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
2014 presented a convergence of conflict for president obama at home and abroad. the crises have not deterred him from taking executive action to enact fundamental change in his second term. in beijing last month, he announced a historic climate agreement between the united states and china. this was followed by a decision to unilaterally grant protection to nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants. on wednesday, he made history again with his announcement to do away with the u.s. strangement from cuba. i am pleased to have tom friedman here to talk about these issues and more as we look back at 2014 and look forward to 2015. welcome. >> good to be here, charlie. >> first, it is very interesting time. here is barack obama who suffered a huge defeat in the midterm elections and is now almost liberated and doing things he probably wanted to do from day one. somehow, some reason, bad advice, tough enemy -- was not able to do. >> he is taking advantage.
the u.s.-china climate agreement is a very big deal. it is very easy to underestimate these kind of things we undertake to try to achieve x, y r z. when china puts into its next five-year plan -- >> when does that start? >> i believe it is 2015. that they are undertaking to build up their renewable energy y 2030 by 20%. by roughly 1000 gigawatts. 1000 gigawatts -- that is exactly how much energy capacity -- electrical energy capacity we have as a country. they are going to build a united states of renewable energy. if they do just half that, the implications of that in terms of innovation, scaling, bringing olar panels down that cost volume curve, that is a huge
deal if they do nothing else. so it is a big deal. >> you once said you would like to be china for a day. >> they are going to be china for a day. >> they like to make the decisions and make sure it is taking place. >> exactly. what the president is doing with his executive authority is just that. he is ordering and getting stuff done. the congress can roll it back obviously but you cannot just knock out his immigration bill unless you come up with a real alternative. these are important things he is doing in terms of legalizing people, but also opening the way to some of the really high tech immigration that we need. you want to really reverse this cuban decision when the polls today tell you two out of every three cuban-americans like this idea. i think he has really laid down a gauntlet to the other
side. you cannot get away anymore with drive-by foreign policy. drive by the white house, and you say syria and everybody laughs. you drive by the white house and you say cuba and everybody laughs. everybody laughs. you better have an alternative because he is not just talking about one, he is laying one down. >> do you think he sat down and said look, i realize this is been a very tough election for e. perhaps, i made some mistakes. for whatever reason it did not go my way, but i have two years left. this is a very big pulpit. >> we talked about it a little back in the last presidential election. we had two guys running as i'm not mitt romney. barack obama ran as i am not mitt romney and mitt romney ran as i am not the centrist guy who governed the state of massachusetts so we had an election about nothing. now we just had a midterm that was basically about nothing. it was about whether -- >> it was about the fact we on't like that nobody is about
nothing -- that everybody is about nothing. >> that is a very good way to put it. we had an election about whether isis people are coming over with ebola on the mexican border. it was in outer space. the world is not about nothing. there are big issues out there. big interests we have at stake, and rising to those interests and challenges. you cannot just have elections about nothing. i'm glad the president has this executive authority and using it in exactly the way he is using it. >> do you think the politics may change? we look at the early reaction from the republican side on cuba. marco rubio, jeb bush. >> how long is that party going to be dragged around by the base? in my next life, i want to be part of the base. they have more fun. at some point -- let's look at the cuban-american issue. wo thirds of cuban-americans
-- i read in the poll this morning -- support this because it is a new generation. they don't carry the feelings of their parents having been exiled forcibly in some cases. i think you have to pay attention to that. you cannot just be responding to what rush limbaugh is stoking up in the base. you have to actually look at the world. that is what i think has been missing from our foreign and domestic policies that we are not starting the day off by saying what world are we living in? ok, we're living in that world. how do we align ourselves with the big trends in the world in order to get the most out of our country and opportunities and talents? too many times we start the day by saying where is the base? where is the base? i think a lot of the election was about was disgust with that. >> i like its boldness. i always want to see boldness. >> i totally agree. >> looking at climate, how close
are we to some tipping point in terms of years unless we have a drastic action and dramatic reduction of emissions? >> there is a concept that climate scientists use challenges we need to avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable. that is really at the nice edge we are on because pick up the "new york times" this morning. big story about how the arctic is getting warmer and warmer. when the more ice melts, the less you have the rays of the sun being reflected off the earth. the more those rays go into the water, warm the ocean, the more ice melts. you get into that cycle where there is a strong consensus among scientists that by the end of the century, there will be no ice. you will be able to trans the arctic. you will be able to sail from new york to seattle. >> unless or just will? >> directionally, that is clearly where things are going
unless you get some kind of climate event that reverses that. you have to presume that they are right. let's say you're a climate denier and i am not. what is my reaction? my reaction is let's say i am wrong and we do everything we can to get ready of climate change. what are we left with? cleaner air, innovative technologies, less support for petrol dictators, stronger country and a more respected country. that is if i am wrong. that is if i am wrong. if you are wrong, we are a bad biological experiment. this is a no-brainer for me. >> you said the other day that what we ought to do is a gas tax. if we take that money and designate it to be used for infrastructure, think of what we can be and do. >> we have a real problem.
last time we raised the gas tax was under that president who didn't do -- ronald reagan, ok? ronald reagan could raise the gasoline tax, we can raise the gasoline tax, especially when you are talking about five cents or $.10 a gallon. between gas stations, there are differences. between 5 and 10 cents a gallon. most importantly, just talk to our secretary of transportation. the highway trust fund is basically broke. we cannot fix our roads. this is not about building some crazy high-speed rail from chicago to los angeles. this is about the roads you ride on. the trust fund that is funded by our gasoline tax to support those roads is going bust because people are driving less, more hybrids. now is the perfect time to take the money and invest in infrastructure, create jobs. wouldn't you rather create jobs that way than by building a keystone pipeline that brings the worst dirty oil from canada o our country? you have exactly the stimulus you want, you are stronger and
you strengthen our productive capacity as a country. >> one of the things you have railed about is us being dependent on middle east oil. along comes shale oil and that means we would no longer be dependent on it. are there risks of shale oil that concern you? >> there is no question. we see the governor of new york banning fracking in new york state. my guide on this is my friend, an environmentalist. his view is that there is a way to do fracking so you don't get the methane leakage which is so much more potent as a greenhouse gas. that you don't spoil the water and the environment. there is a way to do this right that doesn't cost that much more at all. the problem is we have no national standard for fracking. the oil companies oppose that. there is no epa standard to fracking. that is why the governor of new york cam do what he is doing. if anybody should be militating
for a national standard, it should be the oil companies. there are a lot of mom-and-pop's in fracking. they are the ones who don't have the resources or even the scientific knowledge to do it right. big companies can do it right. this is not that expensive. that is where we should be going. they should be leading it so we don't get this local reaction. people say look what you did to my water. i turned on the tap and a flame came out. stop being dumb as we want to be. >> there is also this factor because of decisions -- a whole range of factors -- we see the oil prices declining by the barrel. some say it will become, if it continues to get lower and lower, it will stymie the development of alternative sources. >> there is a real danger in that. my friend and teacher on that is
a really smart energy economist. phil said in the column i wrote there may be moore's law happening in fracking. that is, you know, moore's law says the speed of microchips will double every 24 months. what if fracking is a kind of technology that keeps getting better and making it easier and cheaper and cleaner? hopefully cleaner at the same time. >> and what happens? >> what happens, you you don't just knock out coal, you knock out solar and wind as well. that is why we want fracking to be a bridge to a clean energy future, not a ditch. it could become a ditch if the technology takes us there and we don't compensate for that. that could be our undoing. >> we talk about 2014. but looking at the front page today, we talked about cuba and climate. there is also a russia and later north korea. look at putin in his press conference today. what is your sense of what he has accomplished? the challenge he faces because
falling oil prices has put his economy in recession and in danger. >> i consider him -- by the way, this is not monday morning quarterbacking. i think putin is a towering fool. >> a towering fool? >> i will tell you why. >> who got away with the crimea. >> exactly. ur friend warren buffett likes to say about the economic crisis, when the tide goes out, see who is wearing a bathing suit. when the oil tide goes out, you also see who is buck naked. and i would tell you putin is a guy who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. >> quoting richards. >> yeah. there he was, $110 a barrel oil and thought he was a genius. suddenly, it is $50 and he doesn't look like such a genius anymore. in my view, putin is a guy who is taking on the market, mother nature, moore's law and human
nature all at the same time. >> therefore, is he a rational man who will do the rational thing? >> the famous first rule of holes is when you are in one, stop digging. right now, he is in one. the idea that he would dig it deeper -- he already cut the net worth of his cronies in half. i think people forget one thing about russia. i have seen some of this in the nalysis. no, you don't understand is, charlie. the russian people are used to sacrifices. winters, we're used to sacrificing. this is not your babushka's russia. remember, putin built a huge middle class. these are people with cars, jobs, homes, the ability to travel. hell hath no wrath like a middle class that loses its ability to travel. ok? you have got all these people, all these opportunities and then suddenly you say no travel.
by the way, the ruble -- the ticket you are trying to buy now takes 10 times as many rubles to buy. and, we will see how into suffering they are for crimea. i always find people who tell me the other guy is ready to suffer, that is the guy that has a secure government job. people telling you about other people are ready to suffer, i am dubious. >> as we end the year, also in the headlines is north korea because of the hacking. somebody said this morning on my cbs program that they had won the cyber war. they intimidated a company to withdraw its movie. >> it is a hard case because, in my view, incredibly stupid movie. not that it is bad humor. i don't think we should be making movies about assassinating sitting leaders even the awful, tyrannical leader of north korea. there is enough people killing people today in the world.
it is not funny to me. i cannot dispute what you said. they have intimidated sony and our theater operators from showing this film. i find that very disturbing. >> what is disturbing to me is that they have intimidated them, but if they can do it to sony, who else can they do it to? >> why not charlie rose? "the new york times," "the washington post?" we didn't like that editorial, we are shutting you down for a day. >> how about con ed? >> and we're i think we are at the beginning of something i find very unnerving. >> this is not a country that you thought had any technological talent and then all of a sudden a huge hit. >> they did build a nuclear bomb on their own. >> with the help of pakistan. >> there was enough talent and maybe they had other help, too. it could be anybody you
mentioned. i did a column a while back where i said there are four words that are disappearing from the english language. our kids can forget about these words. privacy. privacy is over. number two is average. average is over. automation, robots can do so much more. later. for climate reasons, whatever you are going to save, save it now because later will be too late. lastly, local. local is over. if i go out in the lobby here and punch you in the nose -- look at friedman punching charlie rose in poland in 30 minutes. somebody will have a camera and tweet it. privacy, average, local and later are all over. >> what is the consequence? >> that is what i really ask. i really -- i was talking to my colleague the other day. i have to say i'm really glad i had my journalism career when i had it. >> because? >> because it was a lot simpler.
people were always writing letters, writing about you but physically as a journalist -- when i was a foreign correspondent, i just had to write my story. i didn't have to tweet, facebook, instagram, update for the web. you could actually sit back and reflect. hey, what happened today? and then type it out on something called a typewriter. you actually put pressure on a key and it leaves an impression of a letter on a piece of paper. will take that over what we got today any day. >> let's talk about isis. where do you see that struggle and is it going to demand more than what we see now? >> here is what i think about the isis problem. they are now embedded in mosul and all of these provincial towns in sunni areas of iraq. the better question is who is going to take them out?
we can bomb them from the air and have done so quite effectively. but ultimately, who is going to go door to door? i asked myself that question. are the kurds going to go door to door in mosul to give it back to a shiite government in baghdad? i don't think so. no, the sunnis are going to go door to door to give it back to a shiite -- i don't think so. no, the shiites are going to go door to door, rescue the sunnis in order to give them -- i don't think so. who is going to go door to door? that is the strategic question. to me, the answer is the only way to go door to door are the people now living under isis. either passively or actively invited them in because they thought the previous government was even worse. for me, the analytical question is what will get the sunni tribes and sunni mainstream residents of a mosul, a fallujah in order to rise up against isis? here is where i come down -- i
think we have to create a de facto sunnistan in iraq like kurdistan. if you look at the surge and the original uprising during the iraq war, what was our strategy? it was clear, build, hold. we had basically did the clearing with help from the sunni tribes. we hold it and then we turn it over to maliki to build it. of course, he completely squandered it. that legacy -- that is a very mportant part of the story because these tribes now under isis are saying you are going to sell me that carpet again? no, no, no. we bought that carpet once. it didn't end well. i think our strategy is going to have to be build, clear, hold. that is you have to be able to say to the sunnis of that region you are going to have the same deal the kurds have. you're going to have your own local militia. you're going to have your own share of the oil wealth. you'll have your own federal rights and powers in a
federalized iraq. i think that's the only way -- create a sunni kurdistan. >> what happened with the awakening was those sunni tribes turned against al qaeda who they had been supporting and finally said you guys are going way too far. >> you're worse than this. >> that's what they said at the time. now, isil is much worse than al qaeda was at the time. >> you would think so, but let me say this. >> go ahead. >> google shiite militias and power drills in iraq and you'll discover that isis didn't invent barbarism there. >> but, they have done it in a much larger and public scale. >> that's true and i'm not in any way defending them. we weren't paying attention the last two years of maliki. he was bombing, shelling sunni towns. he was letting shiite militias there really terrorize people. was it isis-like? no. but, if you were sunni living in
those towns, it was really awful. that's what made you say when isis showed up -- i think we'll take isis. at least they'll protect us from those guys. i think it was a bad decision. i think these guys are psychopaths but it was not without logic. >> they came from al qaeda in iraq. that's where they came from. >> but also, the iraqi army. there was a lot of ex-iraqi guys there. it is a coalition in a sense. >> is there enough sunni tribesmen to build a kind of sunnistan that you talk about and can we equip them and other sunni nations equip them fast enough in order for them to stop? >> in theory, we can. it is always about the politics. it is never about the fight. get the politics right, the fighting will take care of itself. you give people an incentive to build a political structure where they know they will be secure and represented, the fighting will fall.
the british and french divided up the middle east to create lebanon, syria and iraq. we are now seeing that as the do-it-yourself version. so, back in 1914, 1915, they did it from the top down. churchill and his pals had a map and they carved it up in funny shapes. what we are seeing almost a century later is the people re-drawing the borders. iraq will not be put back together from the top down. it can only be put together by the bottom up. by the constituent communities. >> what is the relative population spread between kurds, sunnis, and shia? >> shia is the majority. they have not done a census. some people think as many as 70%. kurds are about 10% roughly. you have yazidis and christians aking up a small ercentage. the shia are clearly the
majority. it is the flip of syria. >> the turks do not surprise you at all, do they? >> for me, erdogan is really going down the putin track and it is really sad to see. what they have in common is something we should all remember -- do not stay too long. erdogan retired after bringing the turkish economy to world-class. he would be living somewhere in a nice house and people would remember him so well. now, he will be remembered -- >> like ataturk or something? >> or as a guy that really turned the country in a way that enriched so many more people not just at the top, but the bottom as well. instead, he will go out as a hateful, crony capitalist -- before he is gone, i'm not sure what he will do. i think he has really soiled his image.
imagine if putin had not come ack. he would've been remembered as the guy that took pressure from the chaos at the end of the yeltzin era to some kind of stability and the country had a positive slope. i think he will go down as an utterly failed tyrant unless he completely surprises us and reverses course. i don't think his ego will let him do that. >> how do you think assad will go down? >> i think he is one of the worst people to inhabit the 21st and late 20th century. >> because of 250,000 dead syrians? >> barrel bombs -- we know what e did. he took what was a truly popular democratic revolt and he turned it into a sectarian revolt by opening fire on the militias -- the protesters. basically saying -- >> the interesting thing is -- this is a theme you talk about that moderate islam has to speak out.
you've been writing about that for a long time. you cannot let what happened and what is said not publicly not be compared to what they say privately and what they say in the mosque. king abdullah did an interview with me a couple of weeks ago and he talked about the fact that -- he basically said what islam has to do is come together and speak out loudly about isis. that they are extremists, not muslims. they are murderers and extremists. >> look at the taliban in pakistan. >> 146 kids. >> we still don't live in a world where killing kids in cold blood is off the table. it is not something human beings -- any ilk, religion, background. >> everybody has to come together. >> those restraints have to come from within the community, their narrative.
>> therefore, we should not do anything in syria because it is not our fight and the people who have to get rid of assad are the people who are living in syria? is that it? >> my philosophy about syria and iraq is the following -- i am for containment and amplification. first of all, i don't want isis to spread. we have an interest that it doesn't spread to islands of decency like kurdistan, lebanon, jordan. i want to contain them. beyond that, i will amplify whatever they do. the middle east only puts a smile on your face when it starts with them. the two most important words in foreign policy kick in -- self and sustaining. when they start it then we can amplify it. what i am done doing because we have already proven enough times in afghanistan and iraq that it fails, we are not going to do it for them. he very act of them doing it themselves is what requires them
to come together because they cannot defeat isis unless sunnis, shiites and kurds come together. it is the same in syria. you cannot bring down assad. ho is the leader of the syrian opposition? >> nobody knows. >> exactly. what is their platform? >> nobody knows. >> if you are a sunni muslim or a christian living in damascus and you don't really know who the opposition leader is, what politics -- >> you come down to a point where we have to take on isis even though it might benefit assad because it is a growing emergency? >> it is a hellish problem. when a society breaks down like this, you have no good choices. i personally think we cannot -- the idea that we are going to fight assad on one side and isis on the other and get the balance
right, i just don't believe that. >> what is our option? >> it is unfortunately to live with the situation in syria. it is ugly but we have lived with it now for several years. >> in other words, do not do anything. >> let assad stabilize the situation. it is enormously ugly. >> can they have a balance of power without support from the united states? can you come to amplify if they are not likely to get to that place where there is something to amplify? >> my question to you would be
it won't be self-sustaining if we do. if they cannot come together and build something that will be self-sustaining, all our support -- we will just be back where we are now. they have to own it. if they don't want to -- look at turkey. this is right on their border. if the turks are not willing to join this fight, that should be a warning -- warning, warning. big sunni country next to isis does not want to join the fight because they have to worry about the kurds having a little strip on the border. i don't know what zaniness is acting out there. i am tired of the difference between a good day and a bad day for america being assad or erdogan deciding what they want to do. they have got to own it. it is not self-sustaining if they don't. if it is not, we will be right back there. >> the short-term you think will simply be the impasse we see now with the possibility of assad emaining in power. >> yes. ultimately, what you have to hope for is if we can defeat isis then you do have the foundation to support different forces to create some kind of power-sharing agreement.
i lived through the years of -- what were they, four through 10 of the lebanese war. there was a peace agreement in 989. how it end? it ended on one principle -- no victor, new vanquished. anyone who thinks that syria will end with the sunni muslims vanquishing the alawites -- anyone who thinks iraq will end with the shiites vanquishing the kurds and the sunnis, i tell you i got a lot of history that ells you it ain't going to happen. it will only happen if they exhaust themselves like they did in lebanon. and decide no victor, no vanquished. we're going to share the spy. >> what happens to the iranians? >> they have a little bit of a putin problem. they have budgeted their government budget. they have sanctions now and half the oil income. what happened last time oil prices collapsed in the late
1980's and early 1990's? the soviet union collapsed. yasser arafat agreed to negotiate with israel because he lost his backing. look what's happening now. this cuba deal -- it didn't just come together for nothing. it is because cuba lost their venezuelan oil backer. i think we are just at the beginning of some really interesting and funky geopolitics. if this oil price stays down where it is, you are going to see stuff that you never dreamed of. there are a lot of leaders like the supreme leader in syria or putin. at $110 a barrel, they are sitting so pretty. they are geniuses. at $40 and $50 a barrel, they are going to be somewhere else. >> you want to see oil prices continue to decline even though it may thwart the development of alternative energies? >> i want to see oil prices decline and the energy taxes rise.
>> i want to talk about the senate report because people raised the question of america's values and reputation and relevance. >> i came down -- when obama outlawed torture in 2009, i supported that. i thought it was the right thing to do. i thought i was very influenced by reading john mccain's speech in the senate. nobody knows more about this issue and nobody has more right to speak about this issue than john mccain. he said it is wrong. it is going to make us more enemies. that is the question you have to ask. david petraeus always used to say whatever policy you are going to undertake, always ask if the will create more bad guys or fewer? i think mccain made a strong case about why it is wrong and why it could create more
enemies. it didn't work. those are powerful reasons. i am glad the senate published it. at the same time, let's recognize that we are in a different time. that was a really scary time. >> a lot of people wanted to use every device they had. >> one more 9/11 and we won't be having this discussion at all because there will be a lot of americans who will say to the cia to do anything they need to do. i think this was a really healthy exercise. if there is another 9/11, we can say we tried that and it didn't work. obviously, if it is a ticking time bomb, do everything you need to do to diffuse that. i thought it was a healthy xercise. >> what is the book about? new book, is that something you can talk about? >> i am tentatively calling it "the world is fast." because basically what happened is the world started to get really -- >> it is flat and fast. >> everybody had to have a smart
phone, wireless broadband, aypal, facebook. and when that happened, once that happened, things started to change really fast. suddenly i can stack all those up and create uber overnight and take over the global taxi business out of nowhere. >> it was great to see you. merry christmas, happy new year, happy hanukkah. >> thanks so much. great to be here. >> back in a moment. stay with us.
>> bob pittman is here. he is chairman and ceo of iheartmedia. the company has a greater reach than any other radio or television outlet in the united states. over 245 million listeners tune in every month. he rose to prominence when he cofounded mtv in 1981. since then, he has been ceo of aol networks, six flags theme parks, century 21 real estate and time warner enterprises. the former mtv ceo says that bob has been reincarnated so many times that he is like buddha. i'm pleased to have buddha back at this table. welcome. > thank you. >> do you agree with that quote? >> he always has a good quote. i am not sure if any of them are
true. >> exactly. tell me exactly -- you got invested in clear channel with your own venture investment firm called pilot i guess it was? ith what idea? >> i actually looked at the company because my friend at time warner told me to take a look at the company because they need a ceo. i said i would never do a job like that again. he said to look at the company for him. i called him and said rich, you cannot believe the assets you have here. he said yeah, yeah, that's what i was telling you. so i made an investment and agreed to be part-time chairman. and i agreed to develop digital, in what would become iheart radio. along the way, they said you said you didn't want to work too hard, why don't you just become the ceo? that is how i became ceo. reluctant c.e.o. clear channel became iheart media. >> clear channel became iheartmedia. what is iheartmedia? >> it is the combination of this huge broadcast radio
platform. very big digital platform now. about 90 million monthly uniques. it includes all of the events business. stitching involved here in new york. i have the radio music festival, all of the huge festivals. we just did jingle ball here in new york, big music festivals. we got a huge social network although we don't have a platform. over 70 million users on twitter and facebook alone. we have the outdoor which has been keeping the clear channel name which is in the united states and around the world. the old billboards have changed. it is ipads on a stick. and you can do all sorts of need tricks with it. >> occasionally, i would read this over the last five years -- traditional radio is no longer what it was because of the internet. the same thing applies to satellite radio that the internet is where radio will be received from now on. >> the interesting thing is since 2010 we have grown the number of radio listeners on broadcast radio about 17
million. the good news is we have added digital as well. i saw you just took your phone out of your pocket -- what we found is we found another radio. we have clock radio, car radio, office radio. now, you have one that you carry around with you. i don't think the consumer thinks of digital and broadcast -- they think of it i am looking for z100, kiss fm. r i'm looking for kfi. oh, it is right here. they don't know that one is digital and the other is an fm channel nor do they care. it expands more listening opportunities. when we were a kid, we had a little portable radio. we have the portable radio back and that is a good thing. we've got portable radios back and that's a good thing. >> what about spotify and those places like itunes where you can downstream? >> those have replaced cds and lps, etc. they have not really replaced radio. in the old days we had radio, 45's, lp's. and then c.d.'s. we went a.m. to f.m.
radio tends to be more about choices. it is where you find out what is going on in the world. we have people who come on and curate. tell you everything that's good and bad. >> so what does that do? go ahead. >> the music collection like spotify is where you store your music. the two are symbiotic. one is i escape the world with my music and the other is i find out what is going on in the world in radio. >> so, radio has a future? >> it better. i worked too hard for it not to have a future. >> what is your vision to take it to the next stage? >> i think with iheartmedia we are trying to build into the future. we are trying to think of this business as all-encompassing. it is not just radio. i will bring up a popular station here in new york -- z100. there is z100.com and there's all sorts of information you can get there which is a companion to the music you experience. we are trying to blur these lines and do consumer first. what does the consumer want and how can we serve them with all of these assets? not how have we served them in the past and how can i hope they
will stay in the past with me? i think movement to the future is the right game plan. >> how much is this driven by personality? >> a lot. you may not know the personality because they may be a star only in jackson, mississippi or -- but they are known there and popular. ryan seacrest talks about this. he says if he goes out with a movie star, people rush to the movie star and worship them. they look over at me and say that thing you were talking about the other day. they treat me as their friend. we talk about in our company that the radio station is like your best friend sitting in the empty seat next to you in the car.
we are your companion, not a hobby or an object. what we better do was exactly what a real friend does is tell you information -- the weather is going to be good tomorrow, do you know what twerking is or justin bieber got a haircut. important pieces of news that people need to know. our measure is when you get to the office, we should catch up on every bit of it. it is so you are not that person who doesn't know what they are talking about. we'll tell you what happened. >> curators are important in the new media, aren't they? >> i think they have always been important and now they're using new media to make it more efficient to get to the curators. we have always had a best friend for every category you're interested in. if something is wrong with the computer, we call so-and-so. what is wrong with this thing and they would come home. >> isn't that what you were first? you were kind of a curator and then a program director. >> we call them by many names. at the end of the day, it is the same function. sometimes we call them an algorithm. human beings do not want to go through everything to find what they are looking for. they are willing to substitute somebody's judgment for theirs. >> they want someone else to save them time by doing it. >> completely. >> the role of live today -- how
how does that play into what most consumers want in terms of entertainment? >> i think consumers smell live. i was always amazed in the early days of mtv we would pre-tape concerts as if they were live and then run them. they looked live. then we looked live. the ratings were always higher for the live concerts. how do they know? it's like the dog. how does the dog know we're almost home when we're driving on a trip? they know. >> yes. >> and to big stars today, paul mccartney, taylor swift can fill up the arenas. they can tour as long as they want to. >> as long as they want to. and what we're finding is that you and i got into this business in an era where we were working toward the connected home. it turned into the connected individual. americans now spend 30% more time in their cars than they did 10 years ago. it reversed. now things like concerts and sporting events, movies, restaurants are places where they want to go. >> how is that going to change in how they program it and how
they absorb information? >> i think the cars turning out to be -- the phone turned out to be a vessel. i think the car is turning into a vessel to carry these other things with you. it has become your mobile home, if you will. >> mobile home and office. >> he yes. and i think you're looking at -- by the way, there are people who sell now -- salesmen who do everything in their car and it becomes the device. if you look at what the automakers are doing, there is interesting stuff. when was the last time you asked your friend for directions to their house? just put it in the gps now. >> when you were at mtv, what was the spirit there? >> i think it is like these guys at silicon valley. it was facebook, twitter, google. it was, you were at the center of the action. you were doing something that no one had done before and there were no rules.
we were writing the rules. our group of people who were all in the 20's did not respect experience. experience, that will mess you up. you don't want to have experience. i think it is a fresh perspective and everything is possible. by the way, if i knew what i now know, i wouldn't have been involved in that because it was too risky. >> if you were starting out today, what would you do? >> if i was starting out today, i would get an advanced math degree and learn to write code. >> would you really? >> of course. >> and secondly you'd learn chinese. >> more people speak english in china than they do in the u.s. isn't that the stat now? >> i think it is. >> language too. >> leadership. you have worked with some giants in terms of management and leadership. what have you learned from whom? >> steve ross probably had the biggest impact on me in terms of management. steve used to say, he is the founder of time warner, he would say you would never be fired
from this company for making a mistake. this company, you'll be fired for not making a mistake. if you're not making a mistake that means you're not trying anything new. you always have to try new things. when we started mtv, it was thought that basic cable networks can never make money. >> why would you think that when they had two income sources? >> because no one knew the advertisement would come there. coca-cola did not advertise for the first five years because we didn't have 65% reach of the u.s. when we finally made money, we were the first basic cable network to make money on advertising. i went to see steve because he saved us from being shut down by the board a couple of times. i said we made money. instead of him saying that's great, he said here's what we can do. everything is a stepping stone to something else. >> and you made it look like, some things we request do we never did before. >> and then we now have the clout to do this. we don't have to worry about the losses. it was always about what is next, not about congratulating
yourself and never do you arrive. there is no such thing as i have arrived. >> there's always a future. >> always. >> who else had an influence on you? >> i think steve case did. i worked with him at aol. steve had a completely different view of the world than i did. i think it was a really good team because it was almost black and white difference. it caused us to look at every decision completely as opposed to all going down the same path together. i think henry silverman really taught me about cost and why he is spending money on that and taught me about urgency. we were going to do some major restructuring of the company. i said we were planning it over six weeks. he said why not do it this weekend? i was taken aback and i thought i can do it. now i ask people if we could do t in 24 hours. and i start my negotiation in 24 hours and move out from there. i think this incredible sense of
urgency is so critical, especially in a world like this where things move very quickly. get there first and you have an advantage. >> is there a common denominator among the entrepreneurs you've worked with other than urgency? >> i think urgency is one, and i think also it's about decision-making. i spent a lot of time on both sides of it. how can a startup be so nimble and a big company not be nimble at all? zr always wondered that. >> and i think it is because by the time a decision gets made at a big company, it has to go through about 10 people. that means 10 people will have to agree it is an idea they will say yes. one person can say no and that will kill the idea. you have stacked your odds 100 to one. in a small company, one person is saying yes and no. what i try to do in ours, i send the request to everybody in the decision tree to talk about it together so nobody can kill the idea. i often say in the meeting to not give me an idea that everybody agrees. i know that's the safest dea.
i will say what is the other point of view? the first time they will say everybody agrees. somebody always disagrees. you want to hear that outlier opinion because the great ideas are never safe ideas. it is always the outlier idea. >> what is the biggest risk you have ever taken businesswise? > i am not sure. it's funny. things look risky in advance and after the fact, they don't. when i went from century 21 to aol, i had people say why you would leave -- >> you didn't know much about real estate or computers at aol. >> no, nothing. >> you knew about radio but not a lot in terms of building a radio empire. >> i knew nothing about tv when i went into it. >> therefore, what is it you had to contribute? >> i always thought i was a sociologist. i always said it is all about the consumer. what i want to be is the expert
in how the consumer is behaving and that behavior is always consistent. if we can study the consumer, we can figure out what kind of tv we should do for them, how we should position and advertise. i still do that. >> what did radio learn from the coming of ipods and things like that? what was it from the digital revolution? what did radio have to learn and has video medium learned it? >> with radio, people confuse it with the music business. it has been good for the radio business. because more people get interested in music. i think it has been interesting as they have been able to move their music to a handheld device or the computer and they can find radio there which physical distribution of lps did not do. >> but it was not the digital transfer. >> it really was the music business that went through a transformation. radio has been growing. >> is it the same thing that will happen to the movie business? is it happening now?
>> i think what is happening with the movie and tv business is that we have found that the love affair the consumer has is with the program, not the network. people love your show, maybe not the network it is on. they look for the show. >> brand identity. >> if they find a show somewhere else, they don't need the network anymore and they cut the cord. the good news -- >> it hasn't cannibalized them, has it? >> it has not cannibalized the shows, it has cannibalized the networks. when i started in the tv business -- >> they are doing all right, the networks? >> some are and some are not. in the old days, you had five or six networks. you look at the radio, it is so fragmented. today with 3000 networks, you look back at 50 radio stations and wish you had that world. >> local television stations are doing well? >> it is a pretty good business model. no matter how much things fragment in video, they still have the biggest video audience. i think there is an advantage to size.
>> warren buffett has put together a chain of newspapers. mostly those newspaper in a one-newspaper town. and it's a principal thing people rely on for combizz. and it made him very successful because he understands the connection between those kinds of newspapers and the audience. >> at the end of the day, newspapers are not going out of business. they are transforming to be electronic delivery. the people who realize it is just a transformation and delivery mechanism are doing fine. the ones that go we got to have print -- people aren't going to hold print. >> thank you, bob pittman. thank you for joining us. see you next time.